GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Green Bay won two games and advanced to the semifinals of the Horizon League Championship, and 11 days after a heartbreaking 70-69 loss to Valparaiso, the Phoenix finally gets to return to the court, opening the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at Bradley on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The game is being played at Bradley's Renaissance Coliseum in Peoria, Ill.
The appearance in the CIT marks the first postseason trip for the Phoenix since 2010 and first under head coach Brian Wardle.
The Phoenix has played its best basketball of the season at the end of the year for the third-straight season under Wardle. Green Bay won eight of its last 11 games in 2011-12 and this season enters Wednesday night's contest having won 12 of the past 18 games.
Green Bay and Bradley have met just once previously, with the Braves winning 66-60 in Peoria on Jan. 24, 1973. Both teams are led by Chicago natives, with Green Bay's Keifer Sykes (15.8) and Bradley's Walt Lemon, Jr. (15.4) each averaging over 15 points per game.
FOLLOW THE PHOENIX: Wednesday night's CIT game will be streamed live on CollegeInsider.com. On the radio, the play-by-play voice of the Phoenix Matt Menzl will be on the call alongside Andrew Gavin on WDUZ The Fan 1400 AM or thefan1075.com. Live stats will be available on BradleyBraves.com. You can also stay up-to-date by following @GBPhoenixMBB and @GBGavin on Twitter.
1. SOPHOMORE SCORING: Sykes, on the strength of his career-high 31 point effort in the Horizon League semifinals at Valparaiso, has scored 521 points this season. That total is just 11 points short of breaking Jeff Nordgaard's mark for most points by a Phoenix sophomore. With 10 or more points in 30 of 33 games this season, Sykes now has 856 points in 63 career games.
2. LONG RANGE: Three-point shooting has not been the focus of the Phoenix offense this season, but the team was been effective from long range in Horizon League play, ranking third in the conference. Junior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) shot 44.4 percent from beyond the arc in league play and has made 28 threes this season. Sykes made a career-high four triples against Valpo and has knocked down 30 on the year. Brown and Sykes combined for just 11 three-pointers in 2011-12.
3. COMPETE, DEFEND, REBOUND: Wardle has stressed this phrase and this emphasis since he was hired prior to the 2010-11 season, and it highlights the team's strengths in 2012-13. Green Bay led the Horizon League in field goal percentage defense, blocked shots and rebounding margin in conference play. In its opening round win over Milwaukee, all three of those stats were on display as the Panthers shot just 26.5 percent, had eight shots blocked and were outrebounded by 12. It was the fifth time this season a Phoenix opponent failed to reach 50 points, the most since 2000-01. Green Bay is 14-0 this season when holding teams below 60 points.
• THE SERIES VS. THE BRAVES: In the only meeting between the Phoenix and the Braves on Jan. 24, 1973, Dennis Woeffler totaled 17 points and seven rebounds to lead Green Bay, but the Phoenix fans could not overcome 22 turnovers in a 66-60 loss at Bradley. Leon Mitchell also reached double figures for the Phoenix, scoring 12 points. Gordon Patterson had a team-high nine rebounds for Green Bay, who had a 29-28 edge on the boards. The Phoenix lost despite shooting 26-of-45 from the field for 57.8 percent.
• PHOENIX IN THE POSTSEASON: Green Bay is making its ninth appearance in the postseason in its Division I history. The Phoenix has played previously in the NCAA (four times), the NIT (two times) and the CBI (two times), compiling a postseason record of 3-8. Green Bay last appeared in the postseason in 2010, defeating Akron 70-66 at home in the first round and losing at Saint Louis 68-62 in overtime in the second round.
• LAUDED ALL-LEAGUE: Keifer Sykes, Alec Brown and Jordan Fouse were all honored by the Horizon League with postseason accolades. Sykes, who ranks in the top-5 in the conference in points and assists, was named to the first team while Brown was a second-team selection after averaging 15.6 points in league play. Fouse was the runner-up for Newcomer of the Year and named to the All-Newcomer team.
• SECOND-HALF SYKES: Sykes, one of just two Horizon League players to be named Player of the Week at least three times this season, has done the majority of his damage in the clutch. In the past nine games against Horizon League foes, he has scored 126 of his 170 points in the second half or overtime, averaging 14 points after halftime. For the season, Sykes averages 9.8 points per game after halftime.
• INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE ARC: Brown has played the best basketball of his career down the stretch this season. The 7-foot-1 Brown has 1,195 career points, and against League opponents this season, he is averaging 15.8 points per game. Since the beginning of February against conference foes, Brown is averaging 17.8 and 2.3 blocks per game.
• DOMINANT DEFENSIVE DUO: Brown and Fouse both were named to the five-player All-Defensive Team after helping the Phoenix rank first in field goal percentage defense, rebounding and blocked shots in league play. Brown and Fouse are the first Phoenix players to be named all-defense since 2008-09 and the first Green Bay duo on the team since 1997-98. In addition, Fouse is the first freshman in the conference to be named to the All-Defensive Team since another Phoenix player, Terry Evans in 2005-06, and the first freshman to lead the Horizon League in rebounding since Northern Illinois' T.J. Lux in 1995-96.
• TOP OF THE CLASS: Fouse's rookie campaign has included impressive consistency, and he is now the holder of Green Bay's freshman records for rebounds (257) and steals (55) in a season. His 48 blocks are the fourth-most in a season by any Phoenix player, more than any Green Bay player not named Alec Brown. Fouse's 257 rebounds are the seventh-most in a season by a Phoenix player and second-most in the Division I era (Randy Berry, 283, 2009-10).
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